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Understanding Employment Law 2014

Author(s): Michael J. Gray, Willis J. Goldsmith
Practice Area: Employment, Litigation
Published: Mar 2014
PLI Item #: 51718
CHB Spine #: H944

Michael Gray's practice focuses on representing corporate clients with labor and employment matters, including class action and multiplaintiff employment discrimination lawsuits, state law overtime class actions, FLSA collective actions, and trade secret and restrictive covenant matters. He represents employers throughout the U.S. in bench and jury trials, administrative hearings, arbitrations, and appellate courts in matters arising under federal and state antidiscrimination laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the FMLA, ERISA, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, labor management relations laws, and state law wrongful discharge, statutory, contract, and tort claims. Michael also advises clients on preventive measures, including reviewing employment policies, counseling on disciplinary actions and investigations, negotiating severance and release agreements for executive terminations, and conducting employment practices reviews.

Michael brings a creative, business-minded approach to problem-solving and litigation. In recognition by Chambers and Legal 500, clients praised him by stating "he's the guy I want in front of the judge" and "quickly gets down to the nuts and bolts and gets people focused on what's important — his approach is unique and he gets exceptional results."

Michael leads the Labor & Employment Practice in the Chicago Office. He is a frequent speaker for the ABA's Labor and Employment Section, the National Employment Law Institute, and NYU's Center for Labor and Employment Law. He is a member of the advisory board of The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations and chairs the Practising Law Institute's Understanding Employment Law annual program in Chicago. Michael enjoys working with Chicago community organizations and contributes pro bono legal services to Lambs Farm, The Newberry Library, and the Anixter Center.


Advocate Health Care Network defends against statewide wage-hour class and collective action

WHM LLC obtains summary judgment on Florida wage-hour class action

Restaurant companies obtain dismissal of purported statewide minimum wage class action by Florida court


Named one of the "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys" by HR Executive magazine and Lawdragon for the last five years

Recognized as one of 14 Leading Lawyers nationally for employment litigation by The Legal 500 US

Consistently ranked as a top employment lawyer by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US, Best Lawyers, and Illinois Super Lawyers

Fellow, The College of Labor & Employment Lawyers


Northwestern University (J.D. 1992; Editorial Board, Journal of International Law and Business); University of Michigan (B.A. 1989)


Illinois; U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of Illinois and the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana; and the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Third, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits

Willis Goldsmith represents management in labor and employment law matters including practice before state and federal trial and appellate courts in matters arising under the NLRA, Section 301 of Taft-Hartley, ERISA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and OSHA; in injunction, breach of contract, and employment cases; and in collective bargaining and labor contract administration.

Among his noteworthy matters is Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, which Willis argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court, reversing an en banc decision of the Ninth Circuit, held that a California statute that prevented employers from using state funds to lawfully deter union organizing was preempted by the NLRA, noting federal labor policy favoring employer speech regarding union organizing efforts.

Willis was Partner-in-Charge in New York from 2008 through 2012, when he stepped down from that position under the terms of the Partnership Agreement; from 1991 to 2006, he chaired the Firm's Labor & Employment Practice. He has authored numerous articles and participated in many conferences focusing on labor and employment law issues. Willis is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; member of the Labor Law Advisory Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; advisor, American Law Institute Restatement of the Law Third Employment Law; the advisory board of the NYU School of Law Center for Labor and Employment Law; the Association of the Bar of the City of New York; the Labor and Employment Law sections of the New York State Bar Association (Section Secretary 2013-2014); and of the ABA. He is a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of New York City and of Appleseed's New York Advisory Council.


New York Philharmonic (Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, Inc.) collective bargaining negotiations with Local 802, American Federation of Musicians

Verizon Wireless obtains injunctive relief in action seeking to enforce non-disclosure, no-hire, and non-solicitation provisions against future competitor

IBM wins affirmance of dismissal of disability discrimination claims


The Best Lawyers in America — Labor and Employment Law

Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers (Band 1)

Legal 500 US — Leading Lawyer

Human Resource Executive Magazine: "The 100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys in America"


New York University (J.D. 1972); Brown University (A.B. 1969)

Bar Admissions

New York; District of Columbia; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and D.C. Circuits; and U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York and District of Columbia